Can A Mechanic Refuse To Release Your Car?

Imagine entering a mechanic’s office because your car was making an odd noise under the hood; after waiting for 30 minutes, the mechanic returns and delivers the terrible news: your vehicle is too hazardous to drive, and the mechanic does not allow you to drive it from their garage without making an extremely costly repair. In such a scenario, you might ask yourself this question; can a mechanic refuse to release your car?

Actually, no. A mechanic has no legal requirement to prevent a dangerous car from being released from its garage. Being a “civil case,” the conflict makes police intervention improbable.

Involving yourself in a civil case probably isn’t wise because you don’t have the time to get your car released by suing the mechanic, which could take weeks or even months.

Can A Mechanic Refuse To Release Your Car?

Generally, a mechanic does not have the authority to withhold your vehicle, regardless of how dangerous it is to drive.

For instance, a mechanic may find that you require new brakes if you come to him for your routine maintenance. The mechanic might even test drive the vehicle. If he thinks the brakes are unsafe, he might notify you that necessary repairs must be made.

Even worse, he can claim that he has no choice but to fix the automobile before returning it to you. If this is the case, you should not believe him.

Telling you that the necessary repairs must be made because your car is in no condition to drive on the road can be done in good spirit by the mechanic. However, no law justifies a mechanic keeping your automobile while demanding that you pay for repairs.

Taking Responsibility

Most mechanics require that you sign a waiver releasing them from liability if you choose to drive away with a damaged vehicle. In this instance, they have a legal foundation for defending themselves from potential litigation.

Can a mechanic refuse to release your car in case you wish to drive away? No, but you must sign the waiver before leaving.

Consider a scenario in which your mechanic finds that your car’s braking system is in such poor condition that driving it might endanger you and others. Even though they warned you, they had to release your vehicle because you insisted.

The mechanic would be responsible for any damage, injuries, or fatalities that might occur if there was no proof that they warned of the dangers of operating a vehicle with broken brakes.

Thus, it would help if you took responsibility for your car. If a mechanic recommends that the suggested repairs be done before you drive off, it is better to take their advice rather than risk hurting yourself or others on the road.

Unauthorized Repairs By The Mechanic

Typically, you consent to specific work when you drop off your car for repair. A request can be made for only particular fixes. The mechanic can also be instructed to implement individual repairs after confirming with you directly. Finally, you can authorize them to make repairs up to a specific amount of money.

Car Mechanic

Consider a scenario in which the mechanic discovers repairs required after you leave the shop even though you didn’t mention them. The mechanic decides to make the repairs and doesn’t ask for your permission.

You see the bill, and the amount is double what you anticipated when you go back to pick up your automobile. The mechanic then warns you that you won’t be able to keep your car if you don’t make the payment. Can a mechanic refuse to release your car in such a case?

A mechanic’s lien is something that exists in practically every state. A mechanic may refuse to release your car unless you pay the total amount for the repairs. Additionally, they may even impose a daily impound fee in some areas. Sometimes you might even be charged extra for keeping your vehicle in the garage.

Pay your bill to avoid this. The mechanic’s lien, however, only covers authorized repairs. Therefore, commit to paying the agreed-upon bill only if your mechanic performs approved work. This should put an end to the matter.

Steps You Should Take If A Mechanic is holding your Car Against Your Wishes

Can A Mechanic Refuse To Release Your Car? No, but you can do a few things if your mechanic won’t let you drive away in your car. It depends on the reason they won’t return your car, but there are only basically two things you can do.

Firstly, you can dial the police, inform them of the circumstance, and request that they speak with the mechanic. In such a case, the mechanic will typically return your car and note that you declined to make the repairs required to keep your vehicle safe. If you subsequently get into an accident, this will safeguard their garage.

If non-payment is the reason they won’t release your car, your only recourse is to file a legal lawsuit. Chances are good that the mechanic will already be pursuing legal action against you for unpaid services. If you don’t think the payment was justified, it could be wiser to pay the debt now and file a lawsuit later. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Possible For The Mechanic To Sell The Car?

Yes. The service provider is given permission when you sign the order for auto repairs. If you don’t pay him when the job is finished, he can wind up selling your automobiles.

How Long Can My Car Be Kept?

To respond to these questions, you must consider a number of variables. Which type of adjustments and repairs your car needs is one of them. Additionally, the volume of work in the garage is a crucial factor. For instance, fixing little issues can take hours. However, it will take more than two days to complete the necessary repairs on the car.


So can a mechanic refuse to release your car legally? Yes, but only if you refuse to make the authorized payments. If the mechanic withholds your car despite receiving the approved payments, it is your best bet to inform the police.

A good mechanic will suggest you make only the repairs necessary before driving off if you are in a hurry, so taking your car to a well-known garage with a good reputation is highly recommended.

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Hi! My name is Tom Watson Founder of Garage Fortress. I am happy to say that I am the owner of Garage Fortress which is a website focused on automotive technology and cars. I studied technology for 15 years at a university and got an Advanced Technical Certificate in Automotive Technology.

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